If you are new to the world of indoor cooling, you want to learn about the various types of fans. The best fans, after all, ship in a wide variety of styles and designs with different feature sets. So what are the most common fan types, and which is the best for you? Keep reading to find out.


  • There are plenty of fan designs out there to suit nearly any kind of consumer and any interior space.
  • The most common fan types include ceiling fans, pedestal fans, table fans that operate at a 90-degree angle, and tower fans.
  • Some newer designs, such as bladeless fans, are bringing much-needed innovation to the market.

Fan Types

There are as many fan types out there as there are breezes if you are comparing an air circulator vs a fan. Some attach to the ceiling if you wonder if bigger ceiling fans are better. Others go outside if you are wondering about the best size for an outdoor patio fan. Still, others stand on the floor if you are asking why your standing fan is making noise during use. Some even use radical new technologies if you are wondering how bladeless fans work.

Insider Tip

No matter which type you choose, be sure to clean the blades and exterior as indicated by the manufacturer.

In short, there is a fan for every consumer out there, allowing many to compare tower fans vs box fans, among other distinctions. Some fans even blow hot air if that is your bag. Keep reading to learn more about fan types so you can conduct that crucial Dyson HP01 vs HP07 review. And, if these fans don’t cool as much as you want, there are several types of AC systems you can learn about as well. Alternatively, you can compare a box fan and an air conditioner to see the differences.

Ceiling Fans

When you picture a fan, you may just picture a standard ceiling unit. This is one of the most common fan types out there. They install directly to the ceiling and help create a nice breeze in your living room, bedroom, or anywhere else they can fit. Modern ceiling fans are occasionally outfitted with smart controls, which is nice, in addition to offering a vast array of integrated lighting fixtures.

Ceiling fans also help keep your HVAC system running efficiently because they change directions for each season.

Reasons to Buy

  • It’s a ceiling fan. You know what you are going to get, and they certainly come in handy during those hot summer months.
  • Ceiling fans can actually help reduce heating bills in the winter. Just reverse the direction.
  • They come in a wide variety of designs and colors, in addition to offering increased aesthetic diversity in the form of lighting fixtures.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • These are not the easiest fans to install. As a matter of fact, you will likely need a professional.
  • Not every ceiling is designed to handle a ceiling fan. Check weight limitations and electrical grid limitations.
  • They don’t offer any additional features such as dehumidification, air filtration, or actual cooling.

Tips for Buying a Ceiling Fan

  • Make sure you purchase an appropriately-sized fan for your ceiling or living space.
  • Look for a unit that ships with remote control, or allows for smartphone control, so you won’t have to climb a ladder to make adjustments.
  • Purchase any lighting fixtures at the same time as the fan so you can install both at the same time.

Pedestal Fans

This is the average standing fan you likely already have in your bedroom or office. They are budget-friendly, easy to operate, and easy to move around to different locations as needed. Pedestal fans typically offer three or four-speed variations, as well as the ability to tilt and swivel the pedestal to send a breeze at differing angles.

They aren’t the most attractive fans on the block, but hey, they get the job done. Many modern pedestal fans ships with remote control for easy configurations, and these fans are available in many colors and sizes.

Reasons to Buy

  • They are cheap, operating as impulse buys for most consumers. Have a spare room without a ceiling fan? Throw in one of these.
  • This is a simple and tried-and-true design. They’re bare-bones, but they just work. Push the on button and experience a breeze.
  • They are available in many sizes and shapes to suit your space and aesthetic preferences.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Pedestal fans almost always require setup of some kind, as they ship unbuilt.
  • These fans are magnets for dust and can be difficult to clean, requiring disassembly.
  • They can make a lot of noise during use, which could annoy light sleepers.

Tips for Buying a Pedestal Fan

  • The more directional control, the better, so look for plenty of tilt and swivel.
  • Read reviews and look for models that are easy to set up, saving on some frustration.
  • If you are going to be moving it from room to room, check out the weight.

Tower Fans

This is the newer, more advanced version of the pedestal fan. Tower fans don’t have blades in the traditional sense, like pedestal fans, but use more recent technologies to create a nice, cool breeze. These cylinder-shaped fans are mounted on a circular base, similar to pedestal fans, but the overall design makes it easier to squeeze them into tight spaces.

These fans are made to suit modern aesthetic preferences, so they are available in several colors and sizes.

Reasons to Buy

  • They are low-profile and can fit just about anywhere, so they are perfect for apartment dwellers.
  • Tower fans are notoriously quiet, even when spinning air at their highest settings.
  • Some tower fans include additional components, such as an ionizer, to allow for simple air purification.


Only run your fans when needed to keep that energy bill in check.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • They oscillate from side to side, but most tower fans do not tilt up and down. This limits directional control.
  • Tower fans are fairly powerful but pale in comparison to pedestal fans. This is due to the nature of the design.
  • They are more expensive to purchase than pedestal fans and more expensive to operate, as they draw more energy.

Tips for Buying a Tower Fan

  • If extra features are your bag, read the fine print to look for the inclusion of an air purifier.
  • Look for a model that does not require a drastic assembly procedure, for your own sanity.
  • Consider purchasing a pair to increase the airflow in your home during use.

Bladeless Fans

This is the newest and hottest version of a tower fan. These fans are shaped like towers, but that’s where the similarities end. As the name suggests, these fans don’t even have visible blades, though they do have miniature blades that spin and work to pull in air from the room. Bladeless fans are great at airflow and offer a distinctive look to your living room or bedroom.

This design also typically includes an air filter to weed out dust, mold spores, bacteria, and other icky particles floating around your air.

Reasons to Buy

  • They are an absolute centerpiece, with unique visuals that are sure to impress visitors.
  • Bladeless fans are not lacking in power. They create more airflow than tower fans, thanks to inducement and entrainment.
  • There are no accessible moving parts, making this design perfect for pets and children.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • The price is not right here. This is a new technology, and it shows in the cost.
  • The novelty decor and general aesthetic may not be right for every consumer.
  • The included air filters may not be as powerful as a dedicated filter found in an air purifier.

Tips for Buying a Bladeless Fan

  • Comparison shop and look for sales, as these fans tend to be on the expensive side.
  • Try before you buy, if you can, to test out the various features.
  • Make sure your bladeless fan comes equipped with additional features like an air purification element.

Window Fans

Do you know those window unit air conditions? This design is just like that, only without that whole air conditioner part. They install on a window, pull in air from the outside, and blow plenty of air throughout your living space. They are considered a budget-friendly alternative to window-based air conditioners, offering a simplified version of the same technology.

Window fans are often bare-bones affairs, but they certainly get the job done, offering plenty of power to increase the airflow in your home while taking up very little space.

STAT: The punkah fan was used in India about 500 BCE. It was a handheld fan made from bamboo strips or other plant fiber, that could be rotated or fanned to move air. (source)

Reasons to Buy

  • These fans are budget-friendly, so it is worth having them on hand for extremely hot days to assist your AC unit.
  • Multiple window fans can be used to create a cross breeze, further enhancing your interior environment.
  • They can actually cool off the room as they pull in air from the outside, though this only works if the outside is cooler than the inside.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • You need a free window to use these, and you may not have the space if your window is currently occupied with air conditioners.
  • No real swivel here, so you may have difficulty directing the airflow, though some models have tilt.
  • Bugs can squeeze through the hole in the gaps and enter your home, and burglars could easily remove the fan from the window.

Tips for Buying a Window Fan

  • Make sure the design of the fan can easily integrate into your window, as not all fans and windows are compatible.
  • Look at the weight; opting for lighter models to simplify the installation process.
  • Some include air filters; opt for these models to improve the air in your space and limit bugs.

Fan Types FAQs

How many types of fans are available?

There are many fan types out there, such as table fans that do not require floor space, fans with remote control, models that lack fan blades, and those that place a premium on a compact design.

How do you know if the correct type of fan has been selected?

It depends on what you are looking for. Some fans excel with the flow of air, others feature a compact design, and some do not even have fan blades. Check out the CFM rating (cubic feet of air moved) of each model before making a purchase.

What affects fan performance?

Many things can impact the flow of air coming from a standard fan, even an exhaust fan. If the fan is placed in the wrong location or if the power level is not adequate, you will experience a decrease in performance.
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